Virtuous rapping

Guest blog by Jennifer Mullis

“I am blessed and highly favored!” is what teachers at my school say when we question why things happen to us. It is our way of saying, “I have no clue, but I’m sure God has a plan for it.”

This year I became “blessed” when a large group of students decided to congregate right outside my classroom door – in the front lobby of the school. This is where they do “rap battles” every morning. This display of imagination is not appreciated by our administration, especially when it gets loud or vulgar. After all, this is not the first thing they want community members to hear upon entering the school.

Many of the rappers are gang members. When rapping battles started happening teachers and the resource officer gathered to be sure a fight was not imminent. Once they realized what was happening, they let it go.

I enjoyed their creative work, so I told them, “Clean it up, and I won’t break it up.”

That was my position until administrators told me I HAD to break it up. I felt I was being asked to squelch the students’ favorite pastime – one in which they were demonstrating high levels of imagination.

When I asked if we could have vulgarity-free Rap Battles during the lunch/free period, I was given a solid, “No.” Administrators feared that this would “feed” the lobby gatherings in the morning.

I understand that rapping sounds “Ghetto” to many people. And when students get loud and whoop and holler, it sounds like they are creating trouble. On the other hand, shouldn’t we encourage it when students exercise imagination as they challenge each other to be strong and courageous in “Rap Battles?” Isn’t their word play something we should encourage?

The vocabulary displayed by these students astounds many teachers. We may think “rapping” students look or act uncouth, but they may be demonstrating imagination, strength and courage.

As all of this played out in the front lobby, I recruited some of the rappers into the Future Business Leaders of America. I wanted them to have the opportunity to use their courage and creativity in ways that could improve their lives after graduation.


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